WELD Artist of the Week: Jordan Bellamy

Career:Filmmaker / Writer / Photographer
Mantra: Good storytelling promotes empathy for others.
Interview by: Kristin Read

Tell the story of when you realized you were an artist.

I was always drawn to sharing stories, and in elementary school, I started putting those thoughts down on paper. As I got older, I started getting into other art forms, like music, painting, photography, etcetera, and landed on film when I was in college, as it seemed to be a combination of a lot of different artistic mediums that I really enjoyed. In terms of being an artist—I think at any given point I could transition from film to pursuing music full–time, or pursue painting or something, but I’m definitely always going to feel compelled to create. I always have.

Tell me what went through your mind the first time you worked with a professional camera. What was the experience like?

I think there’s something significant about the first time any photographer picks up the camera—every single thing around you seems interesting. Everything is at your disposal…you’re limited only to your imagination. And so, the first time I picked it up, it was just a feeling of knowing that there were limitless possibilities. You realize that your brain can produce these incredible things, and it takes a while for the imagination, and the expectations of what your shot should look like, to actually meet your work level. So finally working up to the point where you can capture what’s in your head is really satisfying.

You spend hours behind a monitor piecing together stories, and word on the street is that you hardly ever sleep—why do you do it?

Digging into the philosophy of why I work as hard as I do…I believe that our culture is entirely shaped through narratives, and being a storyteller is a big responsibility. When I see bad movies, I’m honestly equally as inspired as when I watch quality productions…and a lot of that’s due to frustration. Whether it’s the shallowness of the characters, or truths that I don’t believe are being conveyed correctly, I feel like that is detrimental to the actual culture. And I think good stories instruct people to be good people. So coming up with narratives that open up the door to people’s revelations, I think is really important, and that’s what compels me. I also think the way we learn empathy is through others’ stories—and I think good storytelling promotes empathy for others. If you see a character that you wouldn’t otherwise relate to, but the character is portrayed well, then suddenly you have the capacity to empathize with a similar individual you might not have otherwise interacted with. On a personal work level, those are the types of stories I try to create. My goal is to shift my career more in that direction; as opposed to freelance projects I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of. I actually have a personal goal to be computer-free within a couple years. I would just love to be in the field working, or writing out ideas…and that continues to drive me.

Share with me one of your favorite “EUREKA!” moments.

To this day, one of my pieces I am most proud of is called, Playhouse (watch it here, seriously, watch it). The situation I was in was a mess. It was a week before my semester long group project was due for one of our film classes. Due to lack of direction, we all blew it off. A week before it was due, and the last full–day that I possibly had to shoot an entire film, the idea came to me from time spent with family. I got two of cousins together, scripted, filmed, and pieced together the entire fifteen–minute short film in less than 24 hours. It was haphazardly put together, through a spark of inspiration. When I looked at the final product, I realized it was really good—it caused me to recognize that I stay in my head too much. Working on personal projects, I have the tendency to keep ideas in my head, trying to plan and perfect, and never getting out there to create them because I don’t want to fail. For this project, time constraints forced me to stop trying to create something “perfect,” and allowed me to come up with one of my favorite pieces.

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day would have nothing to do with being artistic at all…my perfect day would consist of reading and drinking coffee, surrounded by some close friends, and then finishing the day off at a pub. So basically, just drinking coffee and beer with friends and family all day long. Well, I think the perfect day would be winning a screenwriting Oscar too though, so…maybe I win the Oscar the night before, and follow it up with a day of celebration and storytelling with close friends.

Why do you enjoy being a part of the WELD community?

I was actually behind the scenes when there was discussion of forming WELD, and I think the thing I enjoy most is the emphasis on community—being surrounded by people that know where you’re coming from is so vital—it transcends the amazing workspace, and the coffee, as good as all that stuff is. Knowing that I can drive to WELD and work with what are now some of my closest friends is pretty invaluable as a freelancer. It sounded great on paper before we started it, but the experience is beyond that once you’re here. The community stimulates every other factor about WELD that makes it a good place to work.

What’s the quirkiest thing there is to know about Jordan Bellamy?

That, out of all my pet peeves, the biggest is when people use the word “quirky” as a way to describe themselves. So, that question is pretty ironic. But, now that I have to answer it…for being essentially a homeless person, and owning that title, I have a lot of particularities that seem like they’re not justified based on my circumstance. I’m kind of a snob when it comes to coffee and beer, and things of the sort, but I could care less what I’m wearing, or whether or not I’ve had a shower that day.

Doug Klembaraby Kristin Read